BLOODROCK: BLOODROCK 3 (1971)
1) Jessica; 2) Whiskey Vengeance; 3) Song For A Brother; 4) You Gotta Roll; 5) Breach Of Lease; 6) Kool-Aid-Kids; 7) A Certain Kind; 8) America, America.
All right, looks like we might want to rethink our thoughts about the self-titled debut. Unquestionably, that was Bloodrock at their freshest, and they'd never really improve on the formula in general — but on a rigid song-for-song basis, Bloodrock 3 might just be their most consistent application of the dang formula. The trick is that it lays in a slight course correction: only one tune carries on with the dumb barroom rock sound (ʽYou Gotta Rollʼ), while everything else is retransferred back to the state of primordial darkness. ʽJessicaʼ, in particular, is a far more disturbing way to kick off an LP than a rise-and-shine anthem like ʽLucky In The Morningʼ — and the rest of the record rises up to the challenge as well, with suitably creepy riffs, scorching lyrics, and a vocal performance from Rutledge that never forgets to add a «doom» element to all the brawny masculinity.
Of course, something like ʽBreach Of Leaseʼ is, first and foremost, a self-conscious attempt at repeating the success of ʽD.O.A.ʼ (although it was never released as a single: big mistake for the band, actually, to override it with the relatively toothless ballad ʽA Certain Kindʼ). But it is more ambitious than ʽD.O.A.ʼ (lyrically, the «breach of lease» refers to the relations between man and God, no less) and has a better chorus — wordless, in fact, just an inspirationally played descending heavy riff that could rival Iommi, issue of guitar tone omitted. It lacks the gory sensationalism of ʽD.O.A.ʼ, and you can't sing "I REMEMBER!" at the top of your whiskey-aided lungs to the anthemic chorus, but it's the better song out of the two anyway.
Other highlights include ʽWhiskey Vengeanceʼ, a song that has both the words ʽwhiskeyʼ and ʽvengeanceʼ in its title, which is very appropriate for a band called Bloodrock, and sounds like a Western movie theme with just a small pinch of B-movie horror spirit thrown in; and ʽKool-Aid-Kidsʼ, with a speedy guitar / organ dialog that is very close in effect to classic Deep Purple — I am particularly partial to the relentlessly pounding main guitar riff, but the whole song is delivered over six minutes in what feels like one correctly focused breath.
As usual, Bloodrock are at their weakest when they start going all soulful on our asses, even getting downright preachy on ʽSong For A Brotherʼ, a number that is, fortunately, an inoffensive blues-rock jam for about half of its duration. The only really weak number is ʽA Certain Kindʼ, although it is useful to remember where that one came from — it is actually a cover of a ballad from the self-titled debut of Soft Machine! One thing you can't deny is that these Bloodrock guys were much better educated than people usually want to give them credit for. Problem is, they can't do much with the song other than just reduce it to a rather mediocre hillbilly-ballad level, and Rutledge's singing loses its pizzazz every time he rinses the «evil» out of it.
These are all but minor exceptions, though. In general, Bloodrock 3 is all about anger, frustration, paranoia, and the local Texan interpretation of the apocalypse. It ain't no masterpiece, but it's got a mix of American roots-rock, British heavy metal, and continental «artsiness» that very few people... come to think of it, nobody could get such a good grip on. Even if the songs may not strike you as powerful compared to those people from whom Rutledge and co. were taking lessons, you still got to remember — this sonic blend is quite a thing in itself, and even if I didn't like the songs (but I do), I'd still end up with a thumbs up.